Lang Ping named head coach of USA women's national volleyball team

Chinese Lang Ping, known as the "Iron Hammer" during her playing days as an ace spiker of the Chinese women's volleyball team, has been named the new head coach of the USA women's national team, the USA Volleyball announced in Colorado Springs on Monday.

"USA Volleyball is honored to be able to reach an agreement with 'Jenny' (lang's English name) to be the next USA women's national team coach," Doug Beal, USA Volleyball Chief Executive Officer, told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

"Lang Ping is perhaps the most decorated, successful women's volleyball personality in the world, and I am excited that we are going to be able to have her leading our women's national team for the next quadrennial. She has been uncommonly successful in every phase of her career as a player and a coach, and her accomplishments are unequaled," Beal added.

The 44-year-old Lang was a member of the Chinese women's national team that topped podium five times in world championships, World Cups and Olympics in 1980s. And as coach, she led China to a silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and has been successfully coached in Italy for many years.

"I am very excited to work for USA Volleyball," Lang was quoted by USA Volleyball as saying. "I will do my best to make the program even stronger. I am sure we will have a lot of work to do in order to build up the team. Our first goal is to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games. Of course, our journey will be very difficult, but I also think we have a great future."

Lang, whose 12-year-old daughter Lydia, lives in Tustin, California, with her father, will also be able to be closer to her daughter. "I have responsibility to help her and watch her grow up. It's a great thing for me to be able to do both," she added.

"By hiring Jenny, USA Volleyball is sending a loud message - to the world that we are serious about having our women's team be the best, and to the nation that we are committed to the advancement of females at the top levels of coaching," USA Volleyball President, Al Monaco, said in a statement.

Since leaving China's national team program in 1999, Lang has been a head coach for a number of championship teams in the Italian League. She is currently under contract as the head coach of the Pieralisi Volleyball Club (Club Jesi). Among her current players in Italy is two-time USA Olympic libero Stacy Sykora.

The United States won their second-straight NORCECA Championship in 2003 for the first time in 20 years and also earned bronze medals at the World Grand Prix and at the first Olympic qualifier, the World Cup in Japan.

In Athens 2004, the United States finished fifth after losing to Brazil 3-2 in the quarter-finals.

The team's 2005 schedule features the NORCECA World Championship Qualifying Tournament August 13-19 in Puerto Rico and the NORCECA Championships September 2-9 in Trinidad and Tobago.

The United States will be the defending champions at the NORCECA Championships, which also serves as the qualifier for the Grand Champions Cup tournament in Japan November 15-20.

People's Daily Online ---